A look inside a School Workshop at The Lowry with Artist Michelle Leigh

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Michelle Leigh – A School Workshop Artist

In a school workshop with Michelle Leigh classes learn about L.S. Lowry and the times in which he lived whilst exploring a range of his subject matter from industrial and rural landscapes through to portraits. Classes are initially led step by step through a series of fun and engaging drawing activities. Activities are geared to develop hand and eye co-ordination, improve drawing skills, mark making techniques, colour mixing, build confidence and self-esteem. We learn how to create perspective in a landscape, how to conjure up mood and atmosphere, how to draw a portrait in proportion and to capture emotion with just a few assured marks.

Working from our own handmade looking logs; mini sketchbooks, as did Lowry, we begin with a pencil and a rubber, and see how a few pencil lines turn into a row of terraced houses, a few curved shapes turn into a figure running late for a factory shift ,or become the face of a mischievous child. A dab of the rubber creates factory smoke or a ship on water.

Up in the galleries each chooses a drawing/painting, maybe just a detail to create a quick sketch, adding a small detail from the world around us to make ‘a Lowry for modern times.’. All the while we develop our skills for observing, recording, reflecting and drawing.

Back in the art room each pupil works from their gallery drawings to make a final piece on a larger scale. We learn about L.S. Lowry’s palette and how we can mix colours to make shades and tones. A variety of media is used from charcoal, watercolour, to chalk and oil pastels. Each session is tailored to suit individual classes, to develop skills that can be built upon back at school, with the sketches and final piece making for a lively and unique exhibition back at school. These sessions reinforce drawing as an activity which is above all fun and engaging for all ages, a skill for life. Drawing gives us a chance to look at the world like Lowry did and to see the inconsequential and the ordinary as a subject to paint and draw.

Jessica Stanmen…’there are many ways to see the world and the eye never has enough seeing’.